Written by Jaime L. Tomeo Thursday, 14 May 2009 10:48
Budget Vote, Trustee Election Set for May 19
There are three incumbents and one challenger running for three available trustee positions on the Farmingdale Board of Education. The incumbents, current President Shari Bardash-Eivers and Trustees Kathy Lively and Rick Morrison are vying against John Rennhack.
The positions are for a three-year term and are at large. The budget election and trustee vote will be held on Tuesday, May 19 from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Howitt Middle School in the east gymnasium.
All candidates were asked a series of questions. Their answers appear in alphabetical order.
Current Board President Shari Bardash-Eivers is a married mother of two children in the school district. An office manager for Cedar Construction, Bardash-Eivers has a BA from SUNY Albany and an MBA from Syracuse University. In addition to serving on the board for the past four years, she has been a member of the District Audit Committee, the Districtwide Wellness Committee, all seven PTA units and is an adult supervisor for the girls soccer team, the Farmingdale Cyclones.
Bardash-Eivers is seeking re-election because she said she “believes the changes in the Farmingdale district over the past few years have been outstanding.”
“One important change is that there seems to be greater accountability at all levels of the organization,” she added. “Furthermore, I see a greater sense of teamwork throughout the district, and I’d like to be an integral part of advancing this team.”
According to Bardash-Eivers, Farmingdale currently has many important issues facing the district.
“Our facilities are in need of repair, but our community will not support passing a bond in order to complete capital improvements as a bundle package, and we are forced to tackle our construction projects in smaller, more affordable doses,” she added. “In terms of unfunded mandates, we are currently faced with the MTA tax, absorbing the cost of special ed pre-K, additional auditing expenses over the past few years, as well as the costs of administering and grading the state assessments in grades three through eight. Our taxes are too high, like the rest of Long Island, but our legislature does not recognize the need for incorporating a regional cost factor into the calculation of the state foundation aid formula. But perhaps the most important issue currently facing our district is how to best educate all of our students so that they are all proficient in the various academic areas.”
To continue her mission on the board, Bardash-Eivers said she believes “we need to continue to work as a team.”
“Every employee in this district needs to be respected for his or her position and responsibilities,” she added. “And in turn, every employee needs to put forth his or her best effort so that every aspect of this district is functioning at its optimal level. I am very proud to currently be a member of the Farmingdale UFSD team and I believe if we all work together as a high functioning team, putting our students first at all times, this district can soar.”
Bardash-Eivers said one of the most important accomplishments during her tenure on the board was hiring a new superintendent.
“While all of the candidates that applied were extremely well-qualified for the position, we [the board of education] hired our current superintendent, John Lorentz,” she added. “Since then, accountability has become a key factor in the running of our district. I am also quite proud of the fact that various cuts that were made prior to my tenure on the board of education have now been restored. Our evening concerts are back at the elementary schools. So are clubs and participation in the Odyssey of the Mind local and regional competitions. And assignment of students to study hall in the high school has been greatly reduced with the return or expansion of various electives to broaden the experiences of our high school students. All this, along with various instructional, organizational and physical structural enhancements, have been possible because of prudent financial planning throughout the district.”
A 25-year Farmingdale resident, board incumbent Kathy Lively is a married mother of three. Lively graduated from Berkeley Secretarial School with an Intensive Legal Secretarial Degree and has worked as both a legal and personal secretary in the past. She was also a notary public for the State of New York. She is currently a stay-at-home mother involved in several community activities and organizations including: 15 years in the PTA, holding various executive positions, serving on the Shared Decision Making Committee, Nominating, Budget, By-laws and Traffic Committees, attended the NYS PTA Convention for eight years and numerous Nassau Region PTA workshops and seminars, PTA New York State Honorary Life Award recipient, nine-year Farmingdale Youth Council member and current vice president, Concerned Citizens Association of Farmingdale member, Junior League of the Women’s Club of Farmingdale members, Friends of Farmingdale Athletics member, Farmingdale PAL League, including former commissioner and director of girls’ softball, basketball coach, St. Kilian CYO coach and Nassau County Girl Scouts Hardscrabble co-leaders.
According to Lively, the reason for her decision to run for a second term as trustee is simple; she cares.
“I have been a very active member of the Farmingdale community for many years working with children, parents, teachers and community members in both school and community-based organizations,” she added. “I truly believe that ‘it takes a community to raise a child,’ and that we all have to work together to do so. The board of education is our representative and I believe that communication and trust among the board, administration, teachers, staff and the community is essential for the benefit of all. In my past three years as a school board trustee, I have worked diligently to improve communication between our board and our community members and have encouraged more community involvement in our district.”
Lively said she thinks the most important issue facing the school district “is presenting a budget that is educationally sound and fiscally responsible.”
“I would continue to examine expenditures to make sure that our tax dollars are being spent wisely, as the budget must be affordable to the community, since their support is essential,” she added. “I believe we should continue to examine policies and review and assess curriculum and programs to determine their value and to ensure that the needs of all our children are being adequately met. We must also provide our children with 21st century skills that will prepare them for a global marketplace. Our facilities also have to be maintained and refurbished, within means, as they are the assets of our community. I, in unison with my fellow board members, must also continue in our efforts to secure our fair share of state aid from Albany.”
Lastly, Lively is most proud that the board is “able to present a budget with a tax levy increase of only 1.33 percent, one of the lowest increases in over 30 years, while maintaining our current year programs with no cuts in staff, at a minimal cost to the taxpayer, even despite the current economic climate.”
Rick Morrison of Farmingdale is a current board of education trustee. A telecommunications manager, Morrison is a married father of two girls. His involvement in extracurricular activities includes being a trustee in the Hardscrabble Association and St. Thomas’s Church, PAL, Girl Scouts and the Concerned Citizens Association of Farmingdale.
According to Morrison, the most important issue facing the Farmingdale School District is “the increase in taxes.”
“As an active community member I will continue to lobby here and in Albany for our fair share of state aid,” he added. “I believe that this current board and administration have proven that people with diverse backgrounds can successfully work towards a common goal.”
Morrison touted his and the board’s accomplishment of “keeping the tax levy below 1.5 percent without cutting programs for the past two years.”
“This was accomplished by all parties working together to guarantee the best education for every child and a safe work environment for all district employees,” he added.
North Massapequa resident John Rennhack is a married father of three children. Employed by the Nassau County Board of Elections, Rennhack has a BS from St. John’s University in Communications – Film & Television.
He has run for the Nassau County Legislature twice and was endorsed by Newsday. Rennhack said he is running for school board trustee because he “would like to take an active role in making sure that the district can continue its current programs in the face of our current national economic problems.”
“The state, and by extension, the Farmingdale School District, dodged a bullet with the help of the federal stimulus package,” he added. “While the stimulus package is a two-year program, there are no guarantees that we will have the same state aid we had this year. We have to start now looking at the out-year budgets to get a handle on spending and avoid tax increases homeowners will not be able to afford.”
After attending the school aid rally at Allen Park this past February, Rennhack said, “I do not doubt for a moment the sincerity of the parents and school staff who attended, I do find that our legislators in Albany are not tackling the real problem which is an equitable school aid formula.”
“We also lose out because the combined wealth ratio (CWR), which in part is based on property wealth, makes the Farmingdale School District look like a wealthy district because our property values were high,” he added. “I will be an aggressive voice for a reformed CWR and an equitable school funding formula. Farmingdale taxpayers cannot afford tax increase after tax increase no matter how modest and our children cannot afford to have programs cut.”
His short-term goals include “to bring about more consolidation to save money.”
“I don’t advocate consolidating Farmingdale with another district but seek more cross-district cooperation in purchasing,” he added. “Longterm I want to make sure that all students graduating the Farmingdale School District have a life skill that will allow them to enter the job market with a well-paying job. That would mean increasing programs that provide vocational and technical training for all students.”